May 4, 2011

Morgan Spurlock's New Movie

Morgan Spurlock

Morgan Spurlock has a new movie coming out and advertisers hope you love it. Especially his advertisers, the ones who paid directly for the movie, frame by frame.

Spurlock, who rose to fame because of documentary, Supersize Me where he survived on nothing but McDonald’s food for an entire month, has shown he will suffer for his art. In fact, he gained nearly 30 pounds and suffered some ill health from his experience eating only McDonald’s food for a month. But his documentary was a bona fide hit and he reapt a whirlwind of good publicity as being the next big thing when it came to documentary filmmakers. Spurlock reveled in it, even scoring a hit FX reality show called 30 Days from his film.

Now Spurlock is at it again with a new movie called, Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. His idea was to create a movie with only money generated by selling advertising in it. It’s called product placement and the idea is hardly new. Filmmakers have been slipping in products in return for sponsorship for almost as long as they have been making movies. Whether it was the sports car driven by the lead character, a perfume bottle strategically placed in view or a designer dress, producers have often made surreptitious deals with advertisers to get their movies funded.

Spurlock is doing pretty much the same thing, only he is taking it to the Nth degree, and letting the audience in on all the deals. In fact, the deals are not only part of his movie, they are the basis of his documentary. Explaining how product placement deals work and showing audience the entire process from start to finish is his concept and Spurlock has said he will pull no punches.

He sold the naming rights to the movie, the Pom Wonderful Presents part of the title for a cool million dollars. He made the offer to several companies before finding someone willing to risk their reputation on his movie and his judgment. You see, although Spurlock has sold just about every bit of his film to advertisers, he maintained final edit rights. So the draft of the movie everyone will see will be his. The story, is his to tell. How advertisers are made to look, whether they appear greedy or manipulative or just interested in his success, will be his to tell.

Spurlock seems unlikely to bite the hands that have fed him, but nothing is certain until the finished product is released. Maybe he will let the advertisers speak for themselves, make their own beds, so to speak. If they don’t like the way they end up on film they will only have themselves to blame, after all. This tactic would likely not work very well as advertisers are unforgiving to people who make them or their product seem bad. Especially if that person is holding a camera and a microphone.

If Spurlock intends to ever work in film again he needs to tread a fine line between shooting a documentary about product placement in films without offending the filmmakers who do it or the companies that pay them to do it. If he can pull this off he stands a good chance at coming away looking good and flexing even more movie-making muscle than when he began.

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